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What is Real Hip Hop

Posted on: November 5, 2008

A few weeks ago, NYC had the opportunity to relive some of the “Golden Era” via the Crooklyn Dodgers reunion in Brooklyn. Despite the torrential rain and the fact that the show started on hip-hop time (much later than it was scheduled), a healthy crowd came out, and sang along to all the parts of the one-off Spike Lee super-groups.

I was a huge Black Moon fan, as was pretty much anyone who was really into hip-hop in the early 90’s. After the show, I started on the daunting task of S in of cleaning out records, I started listening to Enta Da Stage as I got rid of my memorabilia from my days at Rawkus and MCA (really, how many promo copies of Mos Def’s Umi Says does one need?) and that one record store that used to in downtown Brooklyn.

Apparently, commercial rap was an issue back in the early 90’s as much as it is now.

Looking back, it seems that it’s always been common place that the divide between what’s real hip-hop and commercial (and therefore, unreal) hip-hop has existed since some artists felt that if they were on MTV, then there message wasn’t the same as if they were on pirate radio.

So it’s pretty much the case of as much as things change, they stay the same. There was a time when the underground hated Jay-Z because he rapped about drugs, guns and women. As anyone who’s gone to an underground hip-hop show can tell you, only one of the three items* that Jay raps about is found there and backpackers were mad because they couldn’t relate.

*Hint, it’s not guns or women.

I read this article (it was actually more of a rant) about MTV’s list of best rappers on Allhiphop.com and got to thinking that no matter where hip-hop ends up, there’s always going to be a divide between what’s commercial (and supposedly fake) and underground (supposedly real).

In the piece, the author Chris Faraone, name checks a few subterranean rappers skills over commercial emcees by saying:

“I understand that the discussion regarded the current “Hottest MCs in the Game;” I’m not here to suggest that Immortal Technique, Sean Price, Slug, Qwel and Cormega should have trumped creative inferiors such as Young Jeezy, Rick Ross and T.I. After all, it is a popularity contest – not a talent competition.”

I actually like Young Jeezy and T.I.’s music about as much as I like Slug and Immortal Techniques’. All of those artists create music for different reasons and as such they all serve their own purpose. And really, are you going to any party club and seeing girls getting down to the sounds of Cormega’s torrid tales of life from the 41st side? Or Sean Price?

No disrespect to those artists (last thing I need is an angry Sean Price at my door) but let’s remember that hip-hop, from inception, has been about keeping the party going. And you know what kick starts the party?


Think about that the next time you’re debating about top five dead or alive, and banging your head against the wall at the club when they’re blasting the latest 50 Cent.


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November 2008
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